Submit Content

A well-regarded local ramen restaurant has closed.

Gaijin Ramen Shop, at 3800 Langston Blvd in Cherrydale, closed its doors earlier this month, citing “irrecoverable business losses” from the pandemic. The shop was only open for lunch and dinner four days per week prior to its closure.

From the restaurant’s website:

Why did we close? The pandemic hit us hard. We suffered irrecoverable business losses the last few years, but we were sustained by grit and our loyal staff. Ultimately, factors such as skyrocketing food costs, supply chain instability, and other costs are too much for us to continue to handle. We could not find a path to provide high-quality food at a reasonable price. Shutting down Gaijin is an incredibly hard decision, but we are so very grateful for the support. We are so proud to have served the Arlington community since 2015.

We would like to thank our customers and staff who made Gaijin an awesome place for the past 7 years. We appreciate all the love you gave us and all the great memories we shared together! Being voted “Best Ramen” by the voters in Arlington Magazine was an accolade that we will always treasure. Our kids had their first jobs working at Gaijin, we’ve watched our servers “grow up” and go off to college and then return during summers and breaks, we’ve grieved and celebrated inside the walls of our restaurant, and we are grateful for every minute.

Thank you for your support; we’ll miss you!

Gaijin opened in July 2015 and was co-owned by two women who pooled their savings in order to follow their passion for scratch-made ramen. The name, which means “foreigner” in Japanese, was a light-hearted nod to neither being from Japan.

Its lengthy, painstaking approach to making ramen earned Gaijin some local accolades and 4.4 stars via Google reviews.

A restaurant that seemingly matched the description of Gaijin was listed for sale this year via a business brokerage website, but a co-owner took to ARLnow’s comments section last month to deny that it was for sale.

0 Comments
File photo

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) A pair of incidents involving local businesses and armed suspects were reported in today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report.

One happened on the 2000 block of Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“The female victim was standing outside a business when the suspect walked by and she greeted her,” according to police. “The suspect then allegedly made threatening statements, brandished a knife and held it towards the victim before fleeing the scene on foot.”

Initial reports suggest that the victim was an employee of the Ace hardware store on the block and that the suspect held the knife up to her throat. It’s not clear what, if anything, prompted the alleged attack.

“During the course of the investigation, officers identified the suspect, located her and took her into custody without incident at her residence,” said ACPD. “No injuries were reported.”

A 33-year-old Arlington woman was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery and Abduction, police said. She was held in jail without bond.

Early this morning, meanwhile, police responded to the 3300 block of Langston Blvd in the Cherrydale neighborhood for another report of an armed suspect at a local business.

“At approximately 4:38 a.m. on September 8, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery [that] just occurred,” said today’s crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined the employee was inside the lobby of the business when the unknown suspect entered and approached the counter. The suspect then brandished a firearm and demanded money. The suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing the scene.”

The name of the business was not given by police.

“No injuries were reported,” the crime report said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

0 Comments

A woman pushing a child in a stroller was bloodied and brought to the hospital after being struck by a driver in North Arlington this morning.

The crash happened around 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Military Road and Lorcom Lane.

“At approximately 10:25 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined the pedestrian was pushing a stroller at the time of the crash. The pedestrian, an adult female, was transported to an area hospital with injuries considered non-life threatening. The child was not injured.”

The woman could be seen being helped to a waiting ambulance after the crash, her face covered in dried blood. The apparent driver and the striking sedan could be seen nearby. So far there’s no word as to what led to the crash nor whether any charges will be filed.

“The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene,” said Savage. “The investigation is ongoing.”

The intersection, which is controlled by a four-way traffic light, is surrounded by homes and a pair of churches, on the northern edge of the Cherrydale neighborhood.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Sign Replacement Complete — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Update: Crews have now completed street sign replacement across the Arlington segments of the former (Old) Lee Highway.” [Twitter]

Crystal City Road Project Underway — “18th St S project ([protected bike lanes], realigning a bad intersection, shortening crossings) has broken ground. No eastbound bike lane during work I guess.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — Rain and windy in the morning. High of 66 in the early morning hours and low of 33 tonight. Sunny this afternoon. Sunrise at 6:57 am and sunset at 5:51 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

In Cherrydale, there’s a little stretch of road called “Old Lee Highway” where a few signs bearing the Lee name have yet to fall.

But that’s about to change.

Last week, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved Arlington County’s request to change the name of “Old Lee Highway,” or State Route 309, to Cherry Hill Road. The motion put an end to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s proverbial last stand here.

In July, the Arlington County Board voted to change the name for Route 29 from Lee Highway to Langston Blvd. While all the local road signs along Route 29 have been changed, it took some extra time — and a separate, smaller community engagement process — to find a suitable name for “Old Lee Highway” and send it to the state transportation board for approval.

Old Lee Highway begins where Old Dominion Drive intersects with Langston Blvd. It ends with a fork in the road, where drivers can turn onto N. Quincy Street or continue east on Langston Blvd.

The stretch of ‘Old Lee Highway’ being renamed (via Langston Blvd Alliance)

The County Board tasked the Langston Blvd Alliance — which suggested Langston Blvd as the new monicker for Route 29 — with conducting an abbreviated process for Old Lee Highway. It came up with three suggestions: front-runner Cherry Hill Road, and two alternatives, Waverly Way and Cherry Hill Lane.

The LBA says Cherry Hill Road fits for a number of reasons.

“Cherry Hill Road is the historic name of the area just up the hill from Cherrydale,” said the LBA working group in a letter to the county. “Cherry Hill can also be seen as a blending of the Cherrydale and Waverly Hills neighborhoods. Dorsey Donaldson originally named this area Cherrydale because of the many cherry trees in the area, some of which are still here today.”

Meanwhile, “road” is a happy medium between “drive” and “lane” that “indicates a smaller, more walkable street but one that supports an important North Arlington bus route,” the group said.

All this came about because the alliance raised concerns with the County Board about staff’s initial suggestion to rename Old Lee Highway as “Old Dominion Drive.”

“LBA and those living on Old Lee Highway expressed concerns that the name ‘Old Dominion Drive’ would cause further confusion for drivers and emergency vehicles,” according to the organization’s webpage.

The Board unanimously approved Cherry Hill Road during its Oct. 19, 2021 meeting, when then-Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol said the name was “the winner by a fair mile.”

The other names in the top 10, pared down from 92 recommendations, were:

  1. Cardinal/Cardinal View
  2. Cherrydale
  3. District View
  4. Dogwood
  5. Monument View
  6. Union
  7. Waverly Heights

As of this week, the county says operational changes to Cherry Hill Road “are yet to be scheduled” and a schedule for switching the signs is pending.

Meanwhile, the county issued internal guidance to all departments to wrap up all associated renaming by March 14.

And for the curious, the county says residents can’t ask for an old sign. The county has, however, added some to the Center for Local History surplus and given several to the Arlington County Historical Society.

0 Comments
Arlington Central Library (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Covid-related staffing shortages are forcing Arlington libraries to shutter some services, including shutting down two branches this week.

Cherrydale and Glencarlyn libraries will both be closed through Sunday (Jan. 23), including the book drops, according to an announcement on Monday (Jan. 17).

Holds on the shelf at these branches will be moved to Central Library on Wednesday (Jan. 19) and available until Wednesday, Jan. 26. No new holds will be fulfilled at the two branches during the closure.

The current plan is to reopen the Cherrydale and Glencarlyn branches on Monday, Jan. 24.

“Operations will continue to be assessed, as these plans are contingent on current staffing levels,” Henrik Sundqvist, spokesperson for Arlington Public Libraries, tells ARLnow. “Announcements regarding resuming in-person programming will be made when we have more information.”

Also starting Monday, all in-person programs at Arlington libraries will be paused and a number of meeting and study rooms will be unavailable in order to cut back on workload and provide more space for staff.

All of this is related to a staffing shortage, notes Sundqvist, something that’s impacting many other businesses across the region and country.

Back in November, Arlington libraries announced the system was set to finally fully reopen at the beginning of January for the first time in nearly two years. That ended up being very short-lived, with two branches again closing only several weeks later.

The reason for the lengthy reopening process was due to a “high number of vacant public service jobs.” The library system has since increased hiring, Sundqvist confirms.

Dealing with holds, in particular, can be a tedious and time consuming task for staff, Sundqvist notes. Though, it’s understandable why residents may not have been picking up held books recently.

“When people don’t pick up holds, the holds need to be pulled and re-shelved which increases staff workload,” Sundqvist says. “It’s reasonable to think recent weather and higher levels of community COVID-19 affect people’s ability and willingness to come into the library and pick up holds.”

Additionally, in recent weeks, Arlington libraries has been distributing at-home COVID tests, which has increased staff workload. All locations are currently out of stock on tests.

It’s anticipated that the Cherrydale and Glencarlyn branches will be open for good and hold service restored starting next week, but Arlington libraries can’t make any promises.

“Our intention is to do everything possible to keep library locations open,” says Sundqvist. “However, like many other services in the region, we may continue to be impacted by COVID-19 related staffing shortages.”

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Lonely job (Courtesy of Jeff Vincent/Flickr)

Columbia Pike Optician Robbed — “Security camera video captured the tense moments when a group of thieves robbed an Arlington County store owned by a man known in the community for his charity work… The five suspects take hammers to the cases and fill bags with Cartier, Dior and Gucci frames, about $60,000 of merchandise.” [NBC4]

Mail Delays Frustrate Residents — “Residents across the D.C. region have become increasingly frustrated over delays in mail deliveries, with last week’s snowstorms, a spike in coronavirus cases and long-standing problems with the U.S. Postal Service contributing to a breakdown in services… Arlington resident Diana Wahl said she received no mail between Dec. 27 and Jan. 9. She finally received some mail on Monday and Tuesday, but older mail.” [Washington Post]

Fmr. Local Prosecutor Joins New AG’s Office — “From the job title, it doesn’t look as if [former Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo] Stamos’s primary role is going to be to keep an eye on those prosecutors. But multi-tasking is the way of the world these days, and by picking her, Miyares certainly poked his thumb in the eye of some of the Northern Virginia chief prosecutors.” [Sun Gazette]

Some Local Libraries Closed — “Due to Covid-19 related staffing shortages, Cherrydale and Glencarlyn Libraries will be closed Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 13 – 16. All library locations are closed Monday, Jan. 17 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.” [Arlington Public Library]

Winter Storm PSA from ACPD — From the Arlington County Police Department: “With the risk of another winter storm on the horizon, now is a good time to register for Arlington Alert to receive information on major emergencies, weather, traffic disruptions and transit delays in Arlington County.” [Twitter]

Arlington Loses Delegate on New Maps — “He’s been redistricted out of Arlington, but Del. Rip Sullivan said he will always consider the community a second political home.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Thursday — Today will have increasing clouds, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:25 a.m. and sunset at 5:09 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny, with a high near 44. North wind 8 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy of Jeff Vincent/Flickr

0 Comments

(Updated, 11/16) Long-time local restaurant Pines of Florence — and its owner — are each making an unlikely comeback.

The Southern Italian eatery will once again be cooking, this time in Arlington’s Cherrydale neighborhood, after stints in Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, and Old Town Alexandria, owner Jimmy Khan confirms to ARLnow. It’s coming to 2109 N. Pollard Street, the space formerly occupied by the recently-closed Portabellos restaurant, in a one-story shopping strip just off of Langston Blvd.

The plan is to have a “soft opening” this Saturday, Nov. 20, says Khan, where customers can bring their own beer and wine (there will be a service fee).  Khan expects to have their liquor license in about two weeks and will have a “grand opening” then.

The opening comes a year and a half after Khan suffered through a protracted and nearly fatal battle with COVID-19.

“I had a 6% chance of living,” he tells ARLnow. “I was on a ventilator for 40 days. The doctors say it was a miracle I lived.”

During that time and his recovery, he took a long look at his life and decided he needed to do more for his family. That’s why he decided to reopen Pines of Florence.

“God gave me another life, so I wanted to do something for my kids, the next generation,” says Khan.

Pines of Florence’s last location was on King Street in Alexandria in a building that was set for redevelopment. While that was a big reason the restaurant shuttered in June 2020, the closing was also related to Khan’s own battle with COVID and his co-owner (and uncle) retiring.

After some time away, Khan is ready for a restart.

“Being a restaurant owner is in my genes,” he said. “I quit for a while, but I’m re-energized.”

Khan says the plan is to open even more restaurants in the coming years.

The new Pines of Florence will, like the previous iterations, serve pizza, sandwiches, and homemade pasta dishes, as well as beer and wine. It will replace Portabellos: An American Cafe, which closed just this past September, after 15 years serving the Cherrydale and Maywood communities.

Khan says he stands by his June 2020 words about wanting to do more for his community, including creating jobs and helping those less fortunate, particularly after his near-death experience.

“[This restaurant] is going to be meaningful for my family and the community,” he says. “I want to help.”

0 Comments

A restaurant specializing in traditional foods of a northwestern Chinese ethnic group has opened in Cherrydale.

Despite its minimal online presence, new Uyghur restaurant Bostan (3911 Langston Blvd) has already drawn customers from D.C. to the Shenandoah Valley looking to taste its regional dishes.

“If one [new] Uyghur restaurant opens… everybody knows,” said Tahir Imin, of D.C., who ate at Bostan last week with friends from New York.

Owner Abudushalamu Mirezhati was hard at work in the kitchen when ARLnow stopped by, but another kitchen worker tells us this is the first restaurant Mirezhati has opened. Bostan replaces Bistro 29, a casual Mediterranean spot that closed in January 2020.

In the dining room, Imin endorsed the lagman, a $13.95 dish featuring stir-fried meat and vegetables with “hand pulled noodles,” according to the restaurant’s menu.

Also on the menu are a range of kababs — filled with beef, lamb, chicken, salmon and grilled shrimp — as well as eggplant and Turkish shepherd salads, soups, dumplings, and a Uyghur flatbread called nan.

Like some other early patrons, Imin says he is Uyghur, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group connected to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), a diverse area that grows most of China’s cotton. The U.S. government, news outlets and others have accused China of genocide and human rights abuses against Uyghurs, though a four-year crackdown against the ethnic group is waning, according to some reports.

The close-knit community of Uyghurs in the U.S. remain connected to their homeland and culture, in part, through restaurants like Bostan.

“Its culture and food… music, everything is very special,” Imin said of the region, noting that Uyghurs consider themselves to “be an independent nation occupied by China.”

Bostan is the second restaurant to refresh business to the low-slung commercial building on Langston Blvd, which includes a 7-Eleven. The former Billy’s Cheesesteaks — which also closed in January 2020 — reopened as Billy’s Deli/Cafe in June under the ownership of Bill Hamrock, who stepped away from Billy’s Cheesesteaks five years ago.

Bostan opens at 11 a.m. daily, closing at 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

0 Comments

A long-time neighborhood restaurant serving the Cherrydale and Maywood communities is closing.

Portabellos: An American Cafe is set to serve its last meals on Saturday, Sept. 25. The restaurant, located within a small, one-story shopping strip at 2109 N. Pollard Street, has been open under its current ownership for 15 years.

In an email to customers, a version of which was also posted on its website, the restaurant cited pandemic-related business challenges and said it was “unable to come to an agreement with the landlord on how to move forward.”

To All Our Valued Guests

it is with great sadness that we announce the closing of Portabello’s an American Cafe. Our lease expired last year in June 2020 and this year we were unable to come to an agreement with the landlord on how to move forward both during and after the pandemic. We want to thank all of our wonderful guests and employees for supporting us over the last 15 years. What began as a little 54 seat restaurant on the corner of North Pollard street, tucked away grew into a place that had welcomed many guests that became like family to us . We are extremely humbled that so many embraced our restaurant and that we were able to succeed as long as we had. For a restaurant to survive and thrive right outside Washington, Dc for 15 years is an accomplishment of which we can be proud. We could not have done it without all of you! THANK you all for your love and support! We will be Officially close on Sept 25th, so please come through!

Nothing but LOVE for Arlington and the surrounding area!

Sincerely,
MJ, William, Jackie, Belldo, Mariono

A GoFundMe page, meanwhile, has been established by a local community member to help out the restaurant owner.

The pandemic “wiped out all of his savings,” says the fundraising page, which so far has raised more than $5,000 from 50 donors.

The extra cash could “lift spirits there a bit and help out,” notes a post promoting it on a local Facebook group.

More from the GoFundMe campaign:

Portabello’s has been around for 20 years and MJ has owned it for about 15 years. The Covid 19 pandemic, however, has taken it’s toll and the restaurant can no longer keep going. MJ Hussein says it has been very challenging during the Covid 19 pandemic and it wiped out all of his savings. He has not been able to pay his lease. The lease ran out last July and he and the landlord decided it’s best for them to part ways.

When MJ took over Portabello’s his youngest daughter was 6 month old and now she’s in 10th grade. He wants to spend time with his daughters and work on his mental health after a very trying 17 months. He is so thankful for Arlington and especially Cherrydale and Maywood, who have been like a family to MJ and his staff.

He mentioned he was going to try to sell the restaurant and would share the proceeds with his loyal staff who have been with him for many years.

I am skeptical he would find a buyer in the current climate of Covid. This GoFundMe is a gesture of good will to a restauranteer many of us have appreciated and enjoyed. MJ always made an effort to get to know his customers. He knew what people generally ordered and would stop by the tables to chat.

This GoFundMe page will be available until September 25, 2021.

Hat tip to Smiley456. Photo (2) via Google Maps.

0 Comments

A boy was walking his dog in Cherrydale when a stranger tried to engage him in conversation and then started following him around.

That’s according to Arlington County police, who describe the Saturday afternoon incident near the intersection of N. Monroe Street and 18th Street N. as an attempted abduction.

The suspect fled the scene in a black SUV and remains at large. Police say they are still investigating.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION, 2021-08070159, N. Monroe Street at 18th Street N. At approximately 3:47 p.m. on August 7, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the juvenile male victim was walking his dog in the area when the unknown male suspect attempted to engage him in conversation. The victim ran from the scene and observed the suspect following after him. As the victim returned to his residence, he observed the suspect turn and run back towards his vehicle. The suspect is described as an unknown race male, approximately 5’9″ to 5’10” tall, 170 – 180 lbs with long black hair. He was wearing a black long sleeve shirt, black ski hat, black pants with a tear on the right leg above the knee, a black mask and gray shoes. The suspect vehicle is described as a black SUV. A canvass of the area by responding officers concluded with negative results. The investigation is ongoing.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list